A focus on overseas bribery means UK officials are 'underestimating the risk of corruption at home', the Fraud Advisory Panel (FAP) has cautioned in a new report.
The fraud watchdog says that domestic corruption is being 'fuelled by conflicts of interest and austerity'. It highlights commonplace practices, such as revolving doors, 'self-regulation' and 'excessive hospitality'. Although these may not be strictly illegal, they serve to work by stealth to divert resources and opportunities, concentrate power and advantage, and corrode trust, the FAP said.
However, the media tends to focus on corruption cases in foreign countries, which is where official resources are mainly directed. Conversely, data on domestic corruption is not collected systematically, and, according to the FAP, there is no dedicated infrastructure or single agency in the UK responsible for taking the lead in policing domestic corruption.
Commenting on the report, David Clarke, Chairman of the FAP, said: 'The neglect of domestic corruption risks sits uncomfortably with everything else we know about the epidemic of economic crime in the UK.
'Corruption isn't a single event or act; it is a process whose ultimate objective is to create a culture in which it can become the new normal. Everywhere we look in Britain today we see signs that just such a culture is beginning to take root.'
The FAP's report calls for greater transparency in court proceedings, a central public reporting mechanism and the introduction of a new corporate offence for failing to prevent economic crime.